Gluten-free Candied Yams – aka. Sweet Potato Casserole

Candied Yams (also known as Sweet Potato Casserole) is staple on my holiday menu. The crunchy, caramelized topping and creamy mashed sweet potatoes taste more like a dessert than a side dish.

So much sugar! I added a good amount of salt and cinnamon to keep it from being overly sweet.

This recipe is one of my family’s favorites, but Little Miss Bayou could never enjoy more than a taste. Now that I’ve created this gluten-free version, everyone can partake. The Bayou Bunch even prefers this one. Read on for how I adapted a family favorite to make it gluten-free.

I would not call this a healthy recipe because of all the added sugars, but it’s great for special occasions. We double the batch when serving a large group.

Believe it or not, I actually reduced the sugar A LOT from the original recipe!

Ingredients

  • 40 oz can sweet
  • potatoes (or yams),
  • drained well, and mashed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted salted butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the sweet potatoes very well. This is important, or the casserole will be runny. Mash the potatoes and combine them with the sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

Next, combine the toppings in a separate bowl: 1/4 cup melted butter, chopped pecans, almond flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow baking dish, and smooth until level. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is hardened and the sugar is caramelized. It will be a nice, rich brown color. Don’t let the pecan topping burn.

Download the Recipe

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

I hope you and your family have an amazing holiday. Let me know if you try this recipe! I love hearing from you.

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Easy & Cheesy Lasagna Bowls – Low Carb and Keto Friendly

When I made this recipe the first time, there were no leftovers. There’s your first clue that it’s good! The entire Bayou Bunch loves these lasagna bowls because they’re super cheesy and rich. I love them because they are EASY and low-carb.

I do not make my sauce from scratch. You totally can if you want to, but I think the store-bought sauce is still very good. If you are closely counting carbs, you could absolutely get a higher quality sauce containing less sugar and made with organic tomatoes. I usually go for a one with some extra basil in it.

You can also choose what type of “noodles” you want. I prefer baked spaghetti squash, but in a pinch, I’ve used frozen zucchini or spaghetti squash “noodles.” You’ll need a few bags of the frozen noodles if you decide to go that route. Each bag only has about a 1.5 servings inside.

This isn’t the prettiest picture, but this recipe is so cheesy and satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 packages of frozen spaghetti squash or zucchini “noodles” OR a fresh spaghetti squash
  • Jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 c diced yellow onion
  • 1c diced bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 c chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 c fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Cooked zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash
  • Parsley for garnish (optional)

Bake the Spaghetti Squash

To cook the squash, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 400. Cut the ends off of the squash, so that it stands upright. Then, cut it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place the squash with the cut side DOWN on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the inside comes apart in to “noodles” when you scrape it gently with a fork.

You can either serve the dish in the spaghetti squash bowls, or assemble individual bowls. Because we have a family of five, individual bowls work best for us.

Make the Sauce

I use sweet Italian sausage for the sauce, browning it in a large pan over medium heat with about a cup each of diced onion and bell pepper. I also add two tablespoons of minced garlic. You can even add a cup of diced mushrooms if you’d like more veggies.

Once the meat and vegetables are cooked through, add in the spaghetti sauce and stir it together. Let it cook on low for about 15 minutes.

Make the Cheese Mixture & Assemble

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, and spices.

Now, you’re ready to put it all together. Pile 1/2 cup of “noodles” in the bottom of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture, 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and sprinkle with mozzarella and parsley.

Put each bowl in the microwave or oven (if they’re oven-safe) to melt the cheeses before serving.

If you’re feeding kids, add a piece of whole grain or gluten free toast.

Download the Recipe

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe, and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gluten-Free Healthier Pumpkin Bread (or Muffins) with Chocolate Chips

Turkey Day is tomorrow! I am looking forward to a day with family, celebrating all that I have to be thankful for. I’m making these delicious, festive muffins to have for breakfasts this week.

These muffins call for gluten-free flour, but regular flour will also work. I’ve reduced the sugar, amped up the spice, and added dark chocolate chips. The result is a healthier recipe that still tastes amazing. I also added delicious whole grains that keep you full for longer.

This recipe makes a double batch, but if you have a lot of people around, they won’t last. The muffins can also be frozen if you need to keep them fresh longer.

Gluten Free Flour Options

I wrote this recipe to use coconut flour, but I prefer apple flour. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it lately. If you aren’t a coconut fan, you can also use regular flour.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 c coconut (or apple) flour
  • 1 c old fashioned oats
  • I c gluten-free flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 c melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp clove (heaping)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (heaping)
  • 1 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c millet
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts

Directions

Prepare either bread pans or muffin pans. Grease with avocado oil spray. This will make three loaves or about 36 muffins. I usually do a combination of both, but I prefer the muffins for easy portion control.

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the flour, oats, and millet together in a medium bowl. Next, use a whisk to mix in the baking soda and spices into the flours. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients (plus the sugar): pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, applesauce, and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

(Normally, I just mix it all in one bowl, but this recipe is so big that it’s best to use two bowls.)

Divide the batter into bread pans or use a scoop to make muffins.

Bake the bread for 50-55 minutes on 350, or bake the muffins for about 20 minutes. You can tell they are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I used a small cookie scoop to place bites on a parchment-covered sheet pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden.

Download the Recipe

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe, and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Energy Bites, A Protein-Packed After School Snack or Healthy-ish Dessert

Healthy-ish snacks are one of my secret weapons. Having a few of these in the freezer can keep you from going out of control when a craving for something sweet hits. If you love chocolate-covered cherries, you’ve got to try these!

These protein-rich energy bites have chocolate, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you full and energized longer. The Bayou Bunch loves them after school or as a quick, easy breakfast.

Nothing fancy here, but they’re quite delicous.

Ingredients

  • 1 c oats
  • 1 c unsweetened dried cherries
  • 3/4 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 c hemp hearts
  • 1/4 c raw almonds
  • 1/4 c roasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup hot water
I hate cleaning the food processor too, but it’s really necessary for this recipe.

This isn’t rocket science. Just add the ingredients to the food processor and blend. I do try to add the almonds closer to the bottom, so that they get chopped first. Also, add the hot water slowly, as you mix the ingredients. It helps soften the coconut oil.

*Side Note… I almost never measure nut butters. It’s a pain, and I usually eyeball it.

I used a small cookie scoop to place bites on a parchment-covered sheet pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden.

Storage

I love their rich color!

Once set, the bites can be stored in the fridge for about a week. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in the freezer to keep fresh longer.

My Thoughts on “Healthy” Eating

If you are watching carbs, don’t go crazy and eat a ton of these. However, I’ve found that depriving yourself of any “treats” for extended periods of time isn’t really sustainable. When I really want something sweet, choosing a snack like these will satisfy that craving but also give me plenty of protein and fiber. This means I’m not reaching for another snack a little while later. I could write an entire post on this topic… probably several posts… but I’ll leave that for another day.

Download the Recipe

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe!

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Butterscotch Breakfast Cookies – A Simple Recipe for Fall

Breakfast cookies are a staple at the Bayou House, and we make them almost every other week. They’re not just for breakfast! They make an excellent after-school snack too. This version uses butterscotch morsels and cinnamon for a delicious fall flavor. 

I took my Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies and adapted the recipe. This one is not as simple, but we are all obsessed with this version.

I love this recipe because it all goes in one bowl and comes together super quick with minimal dishes to wash!

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350. Combine the ingredients in a bowl, and mix them together. Use a cookie scoop to place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Don’t worry too much about spacing out the cookies. They don’t spread much.

These cookies do not spread, so press them gently before baking for 15-18 minutes. They will last in the refrigerator for about a week (or about two days if you’re in the Bayou House), or you can store them in the freezer for longer. If you want to reheat them, they are best warmed in the toaster oven!

Cook them until the butterscotch is starting to melt.

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know which version is your favorite.

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Oatmeal Almond Bites

These little protein bites are great to have on hand for an easy breakfast or high energy snack. There are tons of variations on this recipe out there, but this is my favorite, and the bayou bunch loves it too.

To make this a little lower sugar, look for unsweetened dried cherries or cranberries. You can find these at stores like Trader Joes or Whole Foods. I also provided a couple of substitutions for you so that you can adapt this recipe easily to what you have on hand. I used figs, but pitted dates would also work.

To start, gather all of the ingredients on the counter. This is really the hardest part — other than washing the dang food processor. Dishes aren’t really my thing. Fortunately Mr. Bayou helps out a lot in that area.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 20 seconds. After that, add all of the ingredients except the water, to your food processor.

Give it a few good pulses. Then, slowly add the water to bring the mixture together. Blend until smooth.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a silicone mat. Roll them into1 1/2 inch balls, and stick them in the freezer to set. Once they are hard, transfer to a container in the refrigerator for up to a week, but I doubt they will last that long!

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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Jalapeño “Sushi” Wraps

Who doesn’t love having easy, healthy lunches ready to go? This little “recipe” is simple but delicious, and it’s great to sneak some veggies into kids’ diets.

There are so many variations of this recipe. My mother-in-law makes “Party Pinwheels,” an easy appetizer, and that is what originally gave me the idea. My version is a little healthier, with more protein and fresh veggies. Switch out the cream cheese to cut out the spice for picky eaters.

To start, choose the tortillas based on your health goals. For my daughter, I went with Mission Gluten-Free tortillas, and for my boys, I used Mission Carb Balance tortillas with extra protein and fiber. I love Joseph’s Lavash Bread for myself because it’s half the calories and makes a larger wrap.

Generously spread the tortillas with cream cheese.

The steps are simple: Cover the tortillas with Jalapeño cream cheese spread, making sure to go to the edges. Be generous with the cream cheese, because this is what makes them delicious! Also, if you’re not a fan of jalapeño, substitute with chive and onion or plain cream cheese.

Next, sprinkle on diced bell pepper, finely chopped spinach, and a little shredded cheddar cheese.

You could stop here, but I add the turkey for extra protein.

Add a slice of turkey — for larger wraps, I use two slices.

Ready to roll up.

Cut several sheets of wax paper larger than the tortillas. Tightly roll and press the tortillas, and then roll them in wax paper, twisting the ends to secure them. The tighter you roll the tortillas and wraps, the better.

Roll up tightly, pressing down on the rolls to distribute the ingredients.

Place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight (preferable) or at least for an hour or so. This allows them to hold together when you slice them.

I mark the gluten-free wraps with a Sharpie. These will last us about two days.

Before serving, slice the rolls vertically with a sharp knife into 1/2 inch sections.

Cut through the wax paper to slice the roll into sections.

Remove the wax paper, and tell the kids they’re having “sushi” for lunch. Watch them disappear.

Serve with fresh veggies and yogurt ranch dip or fresh fruit.

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies — Perfect for Summer

One of the more challenging aspects of summer time for me is feeding my children three meals every day. That sounds terrible, but hear me out.

My kids want candy, sugary cereal, and junk food, but I know those foods will not serve us well. Giving in to their desires usually leads to hyperactivity, (later) lethargy, crabby attitudes, and video games. I want them to spend the summer creating, playing outdoors, reading, and exploring their interests. Experience tells me that their diet has a lot to do with that.

Off my soap box now… This easy little recipe keeps everyone happy. It’s full of healthy whole grains, provides long-lasting energy, keeps them satiated for several hours, and it has chocolate! These are also gluten-free, so Little Miss Bayou can to enjoy them too.

I’ve made these Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies for years. They usually last us two meals, but you could stretch it longer with smaller kids. We often serve them with a side of Greek yogurt. To mix it up, try adding in dried fruit, nuts, or cinnamon, instead of chocolate chips.

First, preheat the oven to 350. Mash three bananas in a medium mixing bowl. I often peel and freeze bananas that are about to go bad to save for recipes like this. Just stick three bananas in a Ziplock bag, and pull them out 15 minutes before you need to use them.

Next, add 2 cups of old fashioned oats, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional, but adds protein, fiber, and omega-3s), and 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

This recipe is flexible, so use what you have available. I used mini chocolate chips this time.

Mix everything together well. Use a small cookie scoop to put the cookies onto a parchment-lined baking tray, leaving an inch or so between each cookie. This makes about a dozen cookies.

This is before I pressed them. I ended up with 13 cookies, and I just went with it.

This step is important — sprinkle a little sea salt on each cookie. It adds so much flavor to the oats. Press each cookie down slightly (they don’t spread at all), and bake for 15 minutes.

These are soft cookies with the right balance of sweet and salty.

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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